Pandya, spinners give Team India a winning start
New series, new country! However Virat Kohli’s luck with winning tosses continued during the first ODI against Australia at Chennai on Sunday. The Indian skipper, for a change, opted to bat on a track that was expected to take some turn later in the day.
With Shikhar Dhawan missing the first three games, the Mumbai pair of Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma walked out to bat. But Rahane (5) was soon back in the hut, falling to Nathan Coulter Nile. The full house at Chennai was in for further shock as Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey did not trouble the scorers and the hosts were reduced to 11/3. Coulter Nile’s three-wicket opening burst was a reminder of his wonderful season with KKR in IPL 2017.
While Sharma (28) and Kedar Jadhav set about the task of rebuilding, Marcus Stoinis removed both the batsmen to leave the Indian innings in shambles at 87/5.
However, the crowd found its voice back as ‘local boy’ MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya got the innings back on track, brick by brick. Pandya, whose batting prowess is growing with every passing day, was the chief aggressor. He repeated his act of hitting three consecutive sixes in an over, a treatment he had meted out to Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan during India’s ICC Champions Trophy campaign in June, with Adam Zampa being at the receiving end this time during the 37th over. With five sixes and boundaries each, Pandya seemed on course to score a maiden ODI ton. But he fell on 83 (66 balls) as Zampa had the last laugh. The all-rounder’s 118-run stand with Dhoni ensured that the Men-in-Blue had momentum on their side during the final 10 overs.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (32* in 30 balls) continued the good work. However the final act of the Indian innings was played out by Chennai’s favourite adopted son Dhoni, as he unleashed himself on the Aussie bowlers during the final five overs. In the process he brought up his 100th international half-century before being eventually dismissed for 79 (4 boundaries and 2 sixes) in the final over. Team India finished their innings at a more-than-competitive 281/7, a score that seemed unlikely midway through the innings.
A steady drizzle that began at the dinner interval ensured that players stayed off the field for close to three hours. When play eventually began at 8:27 PM IST, the visitors were set a revised target of 164 in 21 overs.
Glenn Maxwell (39) and David Warner (25) showed glimpses of what the Australian team is capable of in the shortest format of the game. But Kuldeep Yadav (2/33) and Yuzvendra Chahal’s (3/30) wrist spin ensured had the visitors in a spin, literally. Pandya continued his great day, finishing with figures of 2/28 from his four overs, accounting for Steven Smith and Travis Head. Australia were restricted to 137/9 in 21 overs as Virat Kohli and Co. continued their winning spree and go 1-0 up in the five-match series. Pandya was declared Man-of-the-Match for a great all-round show. The second ODI will take place at Kolkata on Thursday (21st September, 2017).